It’s a dilemma, isn’t it – just how restful should a holiday be? And how much lazing around on a beach and splashing around in the ocean is good for us? For some, the answer to that would be: as much beach as we can get, thank you very much. For others, well, perhaps you can have too much of a good thing; the beach can get boring – and we want to explore and experience something beyond flying and flopping on a lounger.
The answer to this dilemma – and the solution for couples and families who find themselves arguing about all of the above – is Beach Plus, combining the perfect beach stay with anything from a safari to the most exotic of city breaks. It’s easy enough, as the following examples show – but there are many more options. The Maldives, for example, is less than a two-hour flight from southern India’s temples and palaces, while the island of Langkawi is but a short hop away from the bright lights of Singapore. Problem solved.
Beach plus combines the perfect beach stay with a safari or exotic city break
THE URBAN BEACH COMBO
South Beach, Miami & Cartagena, Columbia
South Beach is the ultimate urban beach destination. The broad stretch of sand is superb, but that’s just part of the pulling power of Miami. For this fascinating city is where North America meets the Latin South – a pan-American playground replete with a great nightlife and restaurant scene. Miami also punches above its weight culturally, with a year-long buzz around the chic Design District and new Faena District, and it plays host to one of the world’s most important art fairs. Combine a stay at The Tides in the heart of art deco South Beach with a visit to Colombia’s Spanish colonial port, Cartagena de Indias. Here the architecture is older and grander, and the pace is slower. But the Anandá boutique hotel is well-placed for exploring Cartagena’s historic old town, while the roof deck can be your venue for a sundowner while enjoying a sea breeze.
PERFECT FOR couples, families with children aged eight or over.
THE SAFARI BEACH COMBO
Zambia & Lake Malawi
The walking safari was pioneered in the 1960s in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park and is arguably the best way to get up close to wildlife. The most remote camp in the park, Luwi, is an oasis of comfort in a grove of mahogany trees, with great views across a floodplain to the Luwi riverbed – and the ideal base for a walking safari. Close to hand are two permanent lagoons, home to numerous hippos and crocodiles, and walking in the company of expert guides, you can expect to see prides of lions, elephants and other big game. By contrast, many of the creatures you can get close to at Kaya Mawa – a pristine island on Lake Malawi – will be underwater, such as Cichlid fish, 700 species of which can be found in this freshwater lake. This understated but stunning resort is a great spot for diving and snorkelling – likewise sailing, kayaking or paddle-boarding. Or, of course, just a plain old paddle or dip, followed by a doze on the beach.
PERFECT FOR couples, including honeymooners, and adventurous families with children aged eight or over.
THE COMBO OF CONTRASTS
Bhutan & The Andamans
The Andaman Islands is a hot destination right now. Situated in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, between India and Myanmar, this archipelago is mostly part of India, but until recently has largely been the preserve of a small indigenous population and adventurous backpackers. But improved connections and luxury hotel openings are changing that – and a few years ago the Jalakara boutique hotel opened to rave reviews, right by what’s surely one of the world’s finest and quietest beaches. Bhutan, on the other hand, is a Buddhist mountain kingdom where you can visit ancient monasteries, including the famous Tiger’s Nest – with a quick stop in Calcutta to round off a holiday of extraordinary contrasts.
PERFECT FOR couples, families with teenage children.
THE BALKAN BEACH COMBO
Istria, Croatia & Ljubljana, Slovenia
Croatia’s Istrian peninsula is one of Europe’s most spectacular coastlines: a beguiling mix of coves and islands, bays and distant mountains – and just the occasional beach, like the one at Monte Mulini, just a short walk from the historic town of Rovinj. Istria is great for combining a seaside break with something more cultural and a little less lazy. Just up the coast in Italy is Trieste; just down, Pula. And to the north-east lies Slovenia, with its mountain scenery – and Ljubljana. The Slovenian capital is an unsung gem, with baroque churches and palaces, and Viennese Secession architecture, which reveals the fact that, like Trieste, this was once part of Austro-Hungarian Empire. You can enjoy superb views of the city from the terraces, 18th-floor pool and suites of Ljubljana’s new InterContinental hotel, just a 10-minute walk from the old town.
PERFECT FOR couples, families with children of all ages and multi-generational parties.
THE VIETNAMESE BEACH COMBO
Ho Chi Minh City & Con Dao
History fans will love exploring Ho Chi Minh City – formerly the capital of French Indochina and then South Vietnam. Its centre retains a strong French flavour: broad boulevards, elegant colonial buildings, even a cathedral of Notre Dame. But equally fascinating is the street-life and buzz of this modern Asian metropolis. The food – whether at a fancy restaurant or at a food stall – is superb, and the welcome warm. After sightseeing in the capital, the Con Dao archipelago – just a 45-minute hop away by plane – is the perfect place to unwind. Made up of 16 islands, most of Con Dao is a nature reserve, and the new Six Senses Con Dao eases guests into the quiet and slow pace of island life while endeavouring to keep this habitat pristine. There’s a good spa, of course, as you’d expect from a Six Senses outpost, while every villa has a pool. But the star turn is surely that stunning private beach.
PERFECT FOR couples, families with children aged eight or over.
THE DESERT COMBO
Al Maha & The Palm, Dubai
Dubai is a byword for a certain type of opulence – for superb shopping in luxury malls and fantastical souks, for gleaming towers and a buzzing nightlife scene. The perfect foil to this lies in the desert that surrounds the bustling metropolis. Al Maha is an oasis at the heart of a vast conservation reserve some 225 square kilometres in size, with tented suites combining privacy with panoramic views of the desert. From your terrace and private pool you can enjoy the extraordinary light and atmosphere of the desert, as Arabian oryx gather at a watering hole during the heat of the day. Astonishingly, it’s less than an hour from Dubai, with its iconic Palm – and the luxurious One & Only The Palm, which will be your base there.
PERFECT FOR couples, families with children of all ages.
Call the Scott Dunn team on 020 8682 5000 to start planning your Beach Plus holiday